Everybody Loves South Florida

Tourists are not only back in force, but are coming here year-round:

“It used to be that August here was slow, reserved mostly for us locals,” said Carmen Ferreira, a graphic artist, who last week dined poolside with friends at the Soho Beach House, a private club and hotel on Collins Avenue. “But that just isn’t true anymore.” In Miami Beach, the once-strict delineation between high and low seasons has eroded of late. Rogue squalls and the intermittent threat of hurricanes (and a restiveness fueled by an unstable economy) have done little to stem the tide of tourists thronging restaurants, bars, hotels and shops, and crowding beaches to catch a vagrant gust of wind.

Their presence has fattened the city’s coffers, driving retail sales and boosting hotel occupancy to new seasonal highs, transforming Miami Beach and its environs from a wan summer ghost town into a magnet for visitors of every stripe.

Celebrities busy on a few productions being filmed in Miami this summer, including “Rock of Ages,” and TV shows like the coming “Charlie’s Angels” and “Magic City,” set in 1960s Miami Beach, have lured the paparazzi, who perch on rooftops, prowl the beach and stand rooted like sentries near the doors of the city’s most fashionable dining spots.

And, foreigners love it here so much they are snapping up real estate.

South Florida is the default capital of the country. Here in Miami-Dade County, one out of five households with mortgages is in foreclosure. Nearby Broward and Palm Beach counties are not far behind. Nearly 200,000 South Florida families are stuck in the mire of default.

And yet much of Miami is gripped by a housing mania as the oversupply of distressed homes dries up and foreigners and investors swoon. Only a few years after it seemed there were so many unwanted high-rise condominiums that the only solution was to tear some of them down, there are plans to build even more.

Home sales in the metropolitan area during the first half of the year rose 16 percent from 2010 for the best spring since 2007, according to the research firm DataQuick, far outpacing the negligible growth in the rest of the country. Two-thirds of the sales were all cash.

“The Brazilians walk in, they don’t even negotiate,” said Mr. Dezer, who said he would announce two new projects by the end of the year. “It’s a no-brainer for them.”

Even right-wing propagandists love South Florida:

Palm Beach and South Florida have become a magnet for conservative media personalities. Matt Drudge, Ann Coulter, Dick Morris, Conrad Black and Lou Dobbs have all moved in over the years.

Newsmax, a Web site and magazine popular with Tea Party conservatives, decided to establish its headquarters not in the conventional media hubs of New York or Washington, but instead in West Palm Beach.

Opinions differ over why so many conservative media stars have relocated here. No state income tax. Only two hours from New York and Washington, yet a world away in mind-set. Year-round warm weather.

So why is local unemployment over 10%? And who is worrying about the long-term consequences?

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3 Responses to Everybody Loves South Florida

  1. otoness says:

    fix your last link, please

  2. Kaleberg says:

    When I was a kid my family used to go down to Miami Beach for the winter vacation. Sometimes we took a train, the Silver Meteor. They showed a movie and had a fashion show on the train. Sometimes we drove. There were no interstate highways south of Virginia, at least not until Florida. We stayed at weird old art deco motels full of aging Jews, palm trees, squawking parrots, and “aqui se habla espanol”. I think our high end stay was at the Raleigh; we usually stayed cheaper. We visited friends and played bingo at the old Roney Plaza when it had a 1920s style haunted garden. It was run down, but magical. I won a set of shot glasses which I lost track of before I reached drinking age.

    Miami Vice seemed like science fiction, with all that old stuff re-imagined as new, chic and exciting. It’s still a pity they tore down the old Roney Plaza to build condos.

    P.S. My mother had an aunt and uncle who lived in a condo complex north on the peninsula where each unit was hexagonal and all the walls met at weird angles. Please, don’t tell me they tore this down too.

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